A part of Azad Maidan, a favourite practice ground for upcoming cricketers and also a venue for protesters voicing their grievances over various issues, will be temporarily closed for the construction of the city’s first underground Metro corridor, once work commences early next year.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has written to the state department of school education and sports asking for about 2,000 sqm or half an acre of Azad Maidan, on a temporary basis, said an official, who did not wished to be named.
Ashwini Bhide, secretary, school education and sports, said, “We have leased out a few pitches on that land for sports, for which alternative arrangements will have to be made. But, there is no clarity yet on how many pitches will be affected.
Some land is certainly required to be given for the Metro project, but we have to see how best to balance it, causing minimum disturbance to sports activities of the maidan.”
The ground, which has about 22 pitches, is roughly spread over 25 acres near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station.
Bhide said officials from the department and MMRDA had recently visited the site to assess the actual land requirement.
“We have asked them to send a proposal superimposing the land requirement on the image of the ground. We will assess their requirement and take a call,” she added.
An MMRDA official said the half-acre land patch would be required only for the duration of construction, and the Metro would take about 200 to 300 sqm of the ground for station landings and staircases.
UPS Madan, metropolitan commissioner at the MMRDA, said, “A small part of the ground will be disturbed for a few years during the period of construction, but the entire maidan will not be closed to public. We do not require the land immediately as we are still in the process of tendering out the project.”
The 33.5-km Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro will be the city’s first fully-underground Metro corridor. At a cost of Rs 23,126 crore, it will be one of the city’s most expensive infrastructure projects. The MMRDA plans to commence construction of the Metro line by January 2015. At present, the department is scrutinising pre-qualification bids of 14 consortia, and plans to invite financial bids in July.